Tiling tub surround with 9 x 12 tiles

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by tilerookie, Oct 12, 2019.

  1. tilerookie

    tilerookie New Member

    Oct 12, 2019
    Total rookie here installing 9 x 12 ceramic tile on tub surround. Hoping someone can answer my questions.

    1) How do I start the first row to make sure its level?
    2) Is there a special thinset I should use since the tiles are so big?
    3) Recommended tile cutter? Hoping to keep it under $100.
    4) Anything else I need to think about since the tiles are on the larger side?

    Thanks for any help.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
  2. dj2

    dj2 In the Trades

    Aug 13, 2013
    For all tile questions, go to johnbridgetileforum.com.
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  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England

    WHat are you planning for the walls around the tub? Is this a shower as well? Prepping the walls is critical. There's more than one accepted way to do this per industry standards, and you do want to choose one. Moisture resistant drywall is not one of them. The critical point is the tub/wall junction.

    Depending on the moisture control method chosen, you could use a ledger board to get the first (raised) row level, then fill in beneath it at the end after removal of the board. If you choose a no-sag thinset, the tile will pretty much stay where you put them and not (usually) slightly slide down the wall. You must maintain at least a small gap between the tub and the first row of tile and either use an engineered tile expansion joint or fill it with caulk (and all changes of plane, which would be the corners need that as well). Unless the tile is rectified, there can be slight variations in their size tile-to-tile. That will affect the minimum sized grout joint (industry calls for 3x the variation between the largest to smallest tile). Only rectified tile tend to support small grout joints and look good. The tile and water management should go up at least to the height of the showerhead, but can go to the ceiling, if you choose.

    Make sure when installing the tub that it is sitting level, or getting that first row in will be messy, potentially direct water where you don't want it, and mean you might have to cut each tile to fit the taper.

    Some tile is easier to cut than others. In general, you won't find a good way to cut them at your price point. You can rent a wetsaw, but you may need to purchase a good blade for it - the ones that come on them aren't always the best. A hard porcelain is probably the hardest to cut without chipping the edge. On most tile, there's a slight round-over on the edges unless the tile was cut from a larger slab. When you cut it, the edge is (or should be) squared off. That can make the grout joint look different than one with an uncut edge. It's best to try to hide those cut edges in a corner, and, it doesn't hurt to use a rubbing stone (looks sort of like a grinding stone with a handle) to take the sharp edge off that cut.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
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